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Man people aren’t aware that airline and hotel loyalty programs also offer dining programs. Enrolling in the best dining rewards program for you lets you earn even more points at restaurants, bars, and other fine establishments. You can also earn credit card points by using a linked credit card and the programs are free to join. Talk about a win-win spending opportunity.
Finding the Best Dining Rewards Program For You
Below is an overview of the various dining programs and how you can earn more points from each purchase. You may use your airline credit card to earn more frequent flyer miles, like some of these best miles credit card options. Or, it’s possible to use a flexible card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to earn points redeemable for multiple travel brands.
Most programs let you link multiple credit and debit cards to your loyalty account. When possible, try linking your credit card that earns the most points on dining purchases. The best credit cards for restaurants and dining may be worth checking out if you dine out often.
Best Dining Rewards Program: Airline Dining Programs
Frequent flyer miles are almost always worth more than hotel points. Therefore, you might try joining these programs first to earn the most valuable points. Most airline and hotel programs partner with the Rewards Network and offer similar payouts at the same restaurants.
Choosing your go-to airline can be your best option so you don’t waste time deal-hunting. For most programs, you can expect to earn up to 5x miles per $1 spent. The exact amount you earn depends on how many offers you redeem each year:
- Earn 1x mile per $1 you spend and don’t receive regular emails from the dining club
- Earn 3x miles per $1 you spend and do receive regular emails from the dining club
- Start earning 5x miles per $1 with your 12th visit in a calendar year
To earn bonus miles, you may also need to leave a review. Read all of the details when you activate the offer.
Alaska’s Mileage Plan Dining lets you earn up to 5x miles per $1 at participating locations. Simply make the purchase with a linked card. Consider using the Alaska Airlines credit card to earn more for your purchases.
For a limited time, you can earn 1,000 Mileage Plan bonus miles by spending $30 at one restaurant in the first 30 days. You will also need to leave a restaurant review in the dining club portal to earn this bonus.
AAdvantage Dining awards up to 5x American Airlines AAdvantage miles per meal. You will need to join their mailing list to instantly earn 3x miles on purchases. The signup bonus is 1,000 extra AAdvantage miles after spending $25+ at a restaurant in the first 30 days.
Unfortunately, AAdvantage Dining miles don’t count toward AAdvantage Million Miler status. Paying with the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard or one of the other best credit cards for American Airlines fliers options also gives you AAdvantage miles for your spending.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Dining awards up to 5x SkyMiles per $1 at restaurants.
You will earn up to 3,000 bonus SkyMiles by making three $30 minimum purchases in the first 30 days:
- 500 bonus miles on your first $30+ visit in the first 30 days (1,000 SkyMiles for Medallion members)
- 1,000 bonus miles on your second $30+ visit in the first 30 days
- Final 1,500 bonus miles on your third $30+ visit in the first 30 days
Starting January 30, 2020, the Delta credit card changes mean that cardholders earn 2x SkyMiles on dining. Until then, all the Delta credit cards only earn 1x SkyMiles per $1 spent. If you fly Delta often, be sure to check out the best Delta credit cards so that you can take advantage of their airline-specific perks.
All JetBlue TrueBlue Dining members earn 3x miles per $1 plus your credit card rewards. The co-brand JetBlue card earns 2x TrueBlue miles on dining. As TrueBlue is a transfer partner for American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou, you can also use one of these cards to earn at least 2x points per $1. Then, you can transfer them to your TrueBlue account when you’re ready.
As many Southwest Airlines award flights require fewer miles than legacy carriers, Rapid Rewards Dining can be one of your best options. You can earn 3x points per $1 if you opt into the dining club email list. Otherwise, you will only earn 1x Rapid Rewards point per $2 spent. Plus, get 10 more points for each review you leave.
This rewards program has a tiered sign-up bonus worth at least 1,800 bonus Rapid Rewards:
- Earn your first 1,000 bonus Rapid Rewards by spending $25+ in the first 30 days and leave a review
- Get 500 bonus Rapid Rewards points after earning your first 1,500 points and leaving reviews
- Receive final 300 bonus points by earning another 1,000 points and leaving reviews
If you happen to fly Spirit Airlines, their Free Spirit Dining program can help you earn more miles. You will earn up to 5x miles per $1 on dining purchases. And, you can get 1,000 bonus miles with one $30+ visit in the first 30 days.
Like most other airline dining programs, the MileagePlus Dining award up to 5x United miles per $1 on dining. MileagePlus Dining has one of the better signup bonus:
- Earn 1,000 bonus miles by spending $25+ on one visit in the first 30 days
- Earn another 500 miles on your second, third, and fourth purchases of $25+ within the first 30 days
As mentioned with the other major airlines, if you are loyal to United, consider one of the best United credit cards to help you maximize your spending.
Best Dining Rewards Program: Hotel Dining Programs
Several hotel loyalty programs also offer similar dining programs.
Hilton Honors Dining awards up to 11x Hilton points per $1 spent. You can also earn 1,000 bonus Hilton points when your first dining purchase is at least $25 during the first 30 days.
Note that the best Hilton Honors credit cards also come with their share of perks, including status upgrades, air travel benefits, free nights, and more.
IHG Rewards Club Dining awards up to 8x IHG points per $1 on dining purchases. The signup bonus is 1,000 bonus points by spending at least $30 at a restaurant in the first 30 days.
The IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, earns 15x points per $1 spent on IHG property stays, and earns 2x points per $1 spent on gas station purchases, grocery store purchases, and at restaurants. Everything else earns 1x point per $1 spent. Also, your fourth reward night is free.
Marriott Bonvoy recently launched its Eat Around Town program in October 2019. The signup bonus is 1,000 bonus points by spending $30 during one visit in the first 30 days.
Basic Bonvoy members earn 4x Bonvoy points per $1. All elite status members (Silver, Gold, Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador) earn 6x points per $1.
The quickest way to get Bonvoy Elite status is by getting one of the best Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. Or, get the Platinum Card® from American Express, one of the best metal credit cards, that comes with Gold Elite status.
Using Rewards Credit Cards
You may also be able to activate special offers with your credit card. For example, American Express Amex Offers and Chase Offers let you earn a cash statement credit at select national brands.
Another option can be the exclusive luxury dining experiences to earn rewards points if you pay with cash. While these credit card offers may not earn airline or hotel points at the same time, you can be rewarded in other ways.
If you’re new to travel credit cards, you may want to consider which carrier you fly with. Decide if they offer a card that is worth getting. Or, perhaps you’d be better off with a flexible rewards card, like the Capital One Venture. Redeem Capital One Venture miles for gift cards.
Or (even better), transfer them to an airline partner where they’ll be worth more.
Finding the best travel credit card for beginners option that makes sense for you can lead to extra earnings for items, like food, that you would be purchasing anyways.
Summary of the Best Dining Rewards Programs
Many of the largest domestic airline and hotel loyalty programs offering a dining club to earn extra points. Each program is free to join. As each club has the same participating restaurants, focus your efforts on the club whose points you use most often.
Do Rapid Rewards Dining count toward the Southwest Companion Pass?
Yes. Any dining offers you activate through the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Dining program count toward the annual point requirement for the Southwest Companion Pass. For calendar year 2020, Southwest requires you to earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points or fly 100 one-way flights.
All points you earn with a branded Southwest Airlines credit card also count toward the Companion Pass.
Are airline and hotel dining programs free to join?
Yes. It’s free to join the dining program your airline or hotel loyalty program offers. You can link any credit or debit card (usually up to 12 cards) and pay with that card after activating the offer. The bonus points automatically deposit into your loyalty account.
How many points can I earn from a dining club?
Although some airlines and hotels have slightly different payouts, below is the usual rewards tiers:
- VIP Member: Earn 5x miles per $1 spent starting with a designated number of purchases in a calendar year AND opting-in to dining club emails
- Online Member: Get 3x miles per $1 on all visits when you join the dining club mailing list
- Member: Earn 1x mile per $1 spent (sometimes per $2) and you don’t join the mailing list
To earn the bonus miles, you may also need to leave a restaurant review. Other clubs award the standard membership tier award but may award up to 10 bonus points per review.
All clubs offer a one-time signup bonus when you meet a minimum single visit purchase amount in the first 30 days.
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